Catawba College's First-Year Theatre Arts students will offer performances of a creative collaboration, "Pulse," Wednesday, October 24, through Sunday, October 28, in Florence Busby Corriher Theatre on campus. This production, developed during the first six weeks of the fall semester through writing and rehearsals, is an experimental exploration of the students' thoughts and opinions on life, American culture, and the state of the universe.
"Pulse" will be directed by Theatre Arts Assistant Professor Missy Barnes. Since joining the faculty in 2002, Barnes has had an interest in developing an original theatrical event for incoming students. During this fall semester, she finally fulfilled this objective, collaborating with a group of talented, creative, and energetic young artists.
The development of "Pulse" was fueled in part by Barnes' experiences with the Lookingglass Theatre, a Chicago-based company with whom she worked briefly while in graduate school. Lookingglass specializes in developing new works based on existing text, such as Ovid's "Metamorphoses," Kafka's "Metamorphosis," and Dickens' "Hard Times." In addition to creating new works, the company roots their performances in physical theatre practice, including acrobatics.
When the Catawba Theatre Arts faculty agreed that the time had come to offer a specialized production opportunity for incoming first year and transfer students, Barnes began considering potential texts to serve as the basis for an original script. She looked at Dante's "Divine Comedy" and Spenser's "The Faerie Queen," among others. Her ultimate desire was to create an event in which students could focus their attention on one of three artistic areas (design, performance, or leadership/directing). For the performers, Barnes wanted to offer an opportunity in which all could participate in equal measure.
"Because I did not know how many would choose to perform and I did not want to employ a traditional audition process in which actors were selected (an unfortunately exclusionary but necessary part of traditional theatre)," she said. "I began to envision an event that centered on the students writing and shaping an original piece of theatre.
"My goal was to get the students' creative juices flowing while offering them an opportunity to learn about the art of collaboration. In addition, I wanted to create a means whereby each might develop a professional work ethic as well as a sense of responsibility. Moreover, I was interested in offering our audience a unique theatrical experience."
Barnes determined that the collaborative process would include the development of new text, so she constructed prompts for all involved students to ponder. The prompts included "where have I been," "where am I now," "where do I want to go," "I believe..." and "I wish...." Members of all three teams gave Barnes their initial responses to these prompts.
"From there," Barnes explained, "the designers got busy devising a visually engaging look that served multiple purposes while the leaders and performers worked collaboratively to develop a 'script' via improvisation, creative process, and further writing exercises. Some of the exercises employed were based on the body of work known as "Viewpoints" which has evolved from its roots in the dance world into its current form which is credited to Anne Bogart."
The result was a production created entirely through the loving attention of the three first-year "teams" with the guidance of upper-class student supervisors and Barnes.
"Pulse" performers, all first-year and transfer students, include Chris Clowers of Whitefish Bay, Wis., Katie Haeuser of Robert, La., Carrie Harris of Asheville, Christopher Herring of Oakboro, Jackson Holder of Charleston, S.C., Mike Innis of Mint Hill, Misty Justiniani of Rockwell, Stephanie Key of Richlands, Shanna Locklair or Rehobath Beach, Del., Zackary Lynch of Selbyville, Del., Amber McCleerey of Hendersonville, Liz Parsons of State Road, Katelyn Rondinaro of Wilmington, Jessica Stamper of Waltham, Mass., Mara Stewart of Hurricane, W. Va., Dustin Sullivan of Monroe, Katherine Tierney of Smyrna, Ga., and Rebecca Ulisse of Yorktown, Va.
"Pulse" design team members, all first-year students, include James Adams of Eden, Susannah English of Cary, Shannon P. Kennedy of Atlanta, Ga., Rachel Mehaffey of Leonardtown, Md., and Jessica Propst of Salisbury.
"Pulse" leadership team members include Carolyn "Carrie" Foster of Baltimore, Md., Caitlyn M. "C.M." Garrison of Asheville, Ryan Glidewell of Marietta, Ga., Jeremy Konkol of Ridgewood, Mary Alice Nichols of Conyers, Ga., Ryan O'Hare of Milwaukee, Wis., Katrina Ritzdorf of Omaha, Neb., and Felicia Youngblood of Savannah, Ga.
"Pulse" crew members include Ashleigh Herndon of Conway, S.C., Michael Lasris of Seaford, Va., and Brianna Smith of Austin, Texas, creative assistants; Ashleigh Herndon, lighting design coordinator; Corey Burckhalter of Elma, N.Y., scenic design coordinator; J.T. Kesler of Salisbury, costumer design coordinator; and Kelly Farah of Wantage, N.J., stage manager. Contributors include Jordan Bell of Hope Mills, Stephanie Taylor of Thomasville, Tim Cook of Conover, Sarah Brown of Chesterfield, Va., Tiffany Crawford of Colonial Heights, Va., and Aubree "Bree" Summers of Fayetteville.
Performances of "Pulse" are $10 for adults and $8 for non-Catawba students and senior citizens and offered in Florence Busby Corriher Theatre on campus at 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, October 24; 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, October 25-27; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 28.